Gwede Mantashe. Picture: GCIS
Gwede Mantashe. Picture: GCIS

There is no need for competing power technologies to go to war as the revised Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), SA’s energy blueprint, will make space for all, mineral resources and energy minister Gwede Mantashe has said.

Speaking at the Windaba 2019 annual conference in Cape Town on Tuesday, Mantashe said the plan would be taken to the cabinet next week Wednesday. If it goes through, it will be gazetted and “there will be certainty”.

The long-awaited plan has been a matter of fierce debate. In the last publicly available draft version, the least-cost model favoured only wind, solar and gas in the mix, but policy interventions ensured that a great deal of coal-fired power generation remains in the IRP, which projects power supply up to 2050.

Mantashe said the country is committed to a sustainable energy mix that is modular and which it can afford.

Under the government’s renewable energy independent power producers (IPP) procurement programme, green power now comprises 4.5% of SA’s energy supply. While more green power is committed to in the IRP, Mantashe warned that the renewable power industry has to make a contribution to SA in terms of ownership and manufacturing — otherwise “there is an inherent problem”.

Business Day TV spoke to the SA Wind & Energy Association's CEO Ntombifuthi Ntuli about the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) and how renewable energy is likely to fit into that picture.

Although accused of being a coal fundamentalist for previous comments about SA's coal industry being under siege, Mantashe told delegates on Tuesday that he was rather “a fundamentalist about security of energy supply”. Abandoning coal power outright will see South Africans “breathe fresh air in darkness”, Mantashe said. 

Clean-coal technologies and other innovations will help SA continue to use coal but in an environmentally responsible manner, he said.

Mantashe is the first energy minister to address the crowd at the annual renewable energy conference in more four years. “It has been a long time since we have had a minister among us,” said Ntombifuthi Ntuli, CEO of the SA Wind Energy Association. “It gives is hope there is going to be continuity in this industry.”

steynl@businesslive.co.za